- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
The Earth Smit in 1992 based on the realizations and developments of the past decades had pointed out a new direction with respect to humanity: an important concept that the world lerant was of sustainable development which had taken into account the immensely harmful environmental practices encapsulated in a fossil fuel, for-profit production system. The Rio Summit had taken serious count of the degradation, extraction and exploitation of natural resources which was being carried out at the cost of the poorest and most marginalized sections of Earth?s population. The climate crises of even just the past few years including the super floods faced by Pakistan in 2010, and then in this year again floods in various parts of Asia and other parts of the continent, as well as other climatic disasters such as soaring temperatures and erupting blazing fires, freezing temperatures and snow storms in different parts of the globe are indicative that the Earth is now rebounding under the onslaught of global warming.
However, in the context of Globalization, the past 20 years have shown that the world?s market-based production system has learnt no lessons. The multiple crises of the past decades ranging from economic, to ecological and food price escalations has shown very effectively though tragically the consequences of a capitalist mode of production.
In the years after the Rio Summit the advanced industrial countries have unheedingly operated to intensify imperialist practices pursuing a free market doctrine at the cost of the poor third world countries. This has been clearly the practice for agricultural production systems. The encroachment of agricultural lands in third world countries for production of agro-fuels as well as other export-oriented agricultural products has severely impacted the poorest segments of the global population, especially the small and landless farmers. The demand of agro-chemical and biotechnology firms to push for the acceptance and production of genetically modified organisms has further resulted in the contamination of highly sensitive food chain and food web systems eroding biodiversity. The result of multiple chemical-based industrial agricultural production methods has of course been constant rise in hunger and poverty; the FAO itself has agreed to the failure in decreasing hunger. The food price escalation in 2008 and then again in 2011 is ample evidence.
In light of failure of development model pushed through globalization, the Rio+20 has immense importance for the well being of the vast humanity and all life on the planet Earth. It gives us space to pause and rethink what the past 20 years have delivered in the context of sustainable development.
However, the thematic concerns of Rio+20 force human society especially in the context of Green Economy :Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication give much reason for urgent critical concern. It is indeed extremely disturbing to see that the context of Green Economy though looking very carefully for solutions based on renewable sustainable methods of production, has chosen the market as the base for delivery of a sustainable development pathway.
If the past 150 years of unsustainable development have shown us one thing clearly, it is that a market-based for profit oriented system of production cannot deliver a sustainable production system. The free market economy is based on a fault line which can only lead to overproduction and hence destruction, depletion and degradation of the Earth?s natural resources which can only result in increasing the present economic and social injustices for the poorest segments of society. The constant push for capturing markets will only lead to further exploitation and extraction of resources. There is an underlying message in the Green Economy context that builds on the belief that maintaining status quo in the context of economic development paradigm is acceptable and eventually technology will find a path. Instead of decreasing production, getting away from carbon emitting and trading systems, changing life styles and development paradigms there is a constant thrust in finding technological fixes which would allow capitalist industries to continue their environmentally degrading path.
The immense inequality in distribution of wealth which is the cause and effect of a free market system has not been taken into account. Even after the immensely damaging impacts of globalization, a failure to meet the millennium development goals, further marginalizing vulnerable communities facing discrimination based on class, caste and gender, there is no push to change the direction in the context of Green Economy.
Communities which represent indigenous peoples, women, peasants, fisher folk, urban poor among others demand systems of production which are decentralized, with control over decision making and implementing in their hands. Solutions for various forms of crisis may they be of food, energy or climatic, need to be resolved with the participation of the people, especially those who are most vulnerable at the hands of multiple levels of crisis. Especially for farming communities, the principles of rights based approach and the anti imperialist context enshrined in food sovereignty is of utmost importance. Food sovereignty, a demand of the rural communities across the globe has built on the concept of local self sufficiency and self-reliance. These must be respected and implemented in deliberations arising through the Rio+20 Summit. It needs no emphasis, that Rio+20 cannot bypass the principled agreements of the Earth Summit well articulated in Agenda 21. Policies for both urban and rural development would have to be based on close loop manufacturing systems which would rely on renewable energy production systems owned by local communities in public interest rather than for private corporate controlled enterprises. Science in the service of the people rather than for free market profit reaping systems has to be the basis of technology development for delivering sustainable systems.
The Rio+20 has another important thematic concern and that is of IFSD (Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development). As has been said above, no institutional set up for sustainable development that is not premised on peoples genuine democratic participation is acceptable. The models of decision making and implementation which are hall marks of institutions such as the Bretton Woods, the World Trade Organization, and the bilateral trade agreements built on secrecy, coercion and negation of people?s rights are unacceptable.
Institutional framework will have to be inclusive of local communities, building on principles of cooperation rather than competition, collective ownership rather than monopoly control and use of resources based on intergenerational considerations truly leading to a model of sustainable development.
It needs to be emphasized that the institutional framework has to build on critical pillars of social justice, gender justice and ecological justice. No doubt, for the success of such a system, a legal mechanism has to be engaged which could hold violators? accountable, allowing for a just and fair global governance for sustainable development.
Azra Talat Sayeed
Roots for Equity,
A 1, First Floor,
Gulshan e Iqbal, Block 2